On February 26th 2013 I gave a talk at Reykjavik University in Iceland on Privacy & Online freedoms. The whole thing played out in during and Icelandic election season were a proposal to put a national filter on Iceland's internet connection to block violent pornography caused quite an uproar in Iceland and abroad. Slides of this presentation here.
A short summary of my talk for the 2010 CCC SigInt conference in Cologne, Germany.
Most European governments are busy migrating important components of their IT-systems to opensource alternatives. The Netherlands was the first western country to develop a comprehensive policy for its entire public sector in 2007 but is lagging its neighbors in working implementations. The comprehensive policy in the Netherlands is focused on the practical advantages of open systems such as interoperability and lower cost and no vendor-lock, these reasons are also shared by policies in the UK and Denmark.
German, Spanish and French policies seem to have a more political dimension by also stressing national independence of critical systems and the possibility of code-audits as important reasons for going the open route. By comparing Dutch progress (and sometimes lack thereof) with our neighboring countries some lessons can be learned about what policies work and what some of the required conditions are for them to work in different political and IT-legacy environments.
For over a million years we lived as hunter-gatherers in small family groups, for thousands of years we lived as farmers in small villages, for 200 years we lived in cities and built industry. Now we live globally in a world that is changing faster every day than ever before through new ideas and technologies.
Sickness and mortality? Scarcity of material goods? Humans as the most intelligent beings? How very 20th century!
Our history has not prepared us for these changes, Our cultures, ideologies and religions provide no answers to many of the new questions we are faced with. Trying to impose old world views or ways of doing things on a new world is a recipe for failure, whether you are a company, government or individual.
For businesses the challenge will be to provide valuable products in a world where many things that were expensive in the recent past have quickly become very cheap or essentially free. Governments will struggle to remain relevant in a world that moves much faster than they can and where geographical location is becoming less and less important for the individual citizens' identity, income and social network.
On the second day of HAR2009 a copyright debate was held between the entertainment industry and the hacker community at HAR2009 in the Netherlands. Tim Kuijk very bravely represented the views of the entertainment industry while Walter van Holst and myself put forth a range of contrarian views and Prof.dr Wilfred Dolfsma moderated us and a full Monty Hall of hackers. Because of some slight historic animosity between hackers and the entertainment industry we made a real effort to keep everything civilised. Since no tomatoes were see flying or Godwin's law invocations were required I think we succeeded. I've stated my personal views on copyright in the 21st century on various occasions on this blog.
Had fun doing talk this afternoon at HAR2009. While I was taking a nap afterward someone wrote a very nice review on the HAR wiki.
To spice things up a bit I added a new aspect about areas of public sector IT that should be under ultimate control by public sector organisations. I'm still refining these ideas but this is the gist of it:
On January 1st, 2002 I tried to use the website of the Dutch national railway (www.ns.nl) using Linux. The site refused me access, it was IE-only. This sparked a conversation with members of parliament about the need for open standards. Over a five year period I progressed from talking to opposition-MP's to meeting the economics minister directly and was able to significantly influence national policy despite total lack of funding or any specific mandate.